Absent any evidence, CNN anchors and reporters asserted that Kerry remark will have major impact

››› ››› ROB MORLINO

CNN anchors and reporters stated or suggested without evidence that the controversy over Sen. John Kerry's remarks will have an impact on the midterm elections, despite the fact that Kerry is not running for office in the election.

In the wake of Sen. John Kerry's (D-MA) October 30 remarks, which Republicans and some in the media have misrepresented in asserting that Kerry denigrated U.S. soldiers in Iraq, CNN anchors and reporters on The Situation Room, CNN Newsroom, and American Morning stated or suggested without evidence that the controversy over Kerry's remarks will have an impact on the midterm elections, despite the fact that Kerry is not up for re-election nor running for any other elected position.

In a November 2 analysis of a Democracy Corps poll conducted October 29 through November 1, the Democratic polling firm Greenberg Quinlan Rosner stated that the responses during the final day in which the poll was in the field, which came "after two news cycles of Kerry stories," showed that the stories produced no difference in respondent opinions from the previous two days, and that the controversy over Kerry's remarks "has not helped Republicans," and that "independents show no interest in it." The poll, conducted in the 50 most competitive congressional districts currently held by Republicans, found that respondents favored named Democratic candidates/incumbents over named Republican candidates/incumbents 51 percent to 44 percent.

Even before any poll was released, however, CNN was promoting the Kerry remarks as a major factor in the election:

  • On the October 31 edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Don Lemon concluded a segment on Kerry's comments by noting, "You know, we didn't talk how this is going to affect the upcoming election next week. Because according to Kerry, the voters are tired of this back and forth between the Democrats and Republicans. ... We're definitely going to have much more on this issue coming up, plus how it's going to affect the upcoming election."
  • On the October 31 edition of The Situation Room, co-host Wolf Blitzer wondered before a commercial whether Kerry's comments would "haunt the Democrats all the way to the election." Co-host Paula Zahn later asserted that "John Kerry's one-liner at a California college has launched another bitter Bush-Kerry battle, one that could affect next week's election."
  • On the November 1 edition of CNN Newsroom, anchor Heidi Collins said, "It's hard to run with a foot in your mouth, especially when it belongs to somebody else. A Democratic candidate speaks out on the famous flubbed line flap." Anchor Tony Harris added, "He's not even up for election this time, but will John Kerry's gaffe affect your votes?"
  • On the November 1 edition of The Situation Room, CNN senior analyst Jeff Greenfield said that "ever since Senator Kerry's botched joke," he had "been trying to think about one simple question: When have the ill-advised comments had a major political impact when the speaker wasn't a candidate?"
  • Later during the November 1 edition of The Situation Room, while interviewing Slate blogger Michey Kaus and right-wing pundit Ann Coulter about Kerry's remarks, Zahn asserted that "there are some folks out there that think it will increase voter turnout," then asked Kaus, "Is John Kerry going to cost some Democrats some victories in tight races?"
  • On the November 2 edition of CNN's American Morning, co-host Soledad O'Brien asked senior political correspondent Candy Crowley, "How much of a role, how much of an impact do you think [Kerry's remarks are] actually going to have on this election?" In response, Crowley asserted that the remarks "certainly might help Republicans in stirring up their base" by "remind[ing] them of John Kerry."

From the October 31 edition of CNN Newsroom:

LEMON: You know, we didn't talk how this is going to affect the upcoming election next week. Because according to Kerry, the voters are tired of this back-and-forth between the Democrats and Republicans. Last week it was the waterboarding incident with the vice president that people said was misconstrued. Now it's John Kerry's comments that people are saying are misconstrued. So, I think people are wanting to come together instead of fighting so much about it, whether what's -- what was misconstrued or not. We're definitely going to have much more on this issue coming up, plus how it's going to affect the upcoming election that's happening on Tuesday.

Fro the October 31 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Coming up: Will John Kerry's attempt at humor be forgotten in a few days, or a few hours, maybe? Or will it haunt the Democrats all the way to the election? We'll be right back.

[...]

ZAHN: And welcome back to CNN election headquarters right here in New York, where politicians should never underestimate the power of being able to tell a joke. John Kerry's one-liner at a California college has launched another bitter Bush-Kerry battle, one that could affect next week's election.

From the November 1 edition of CNN Newsroom:

COLLINS: It's hard to run with a foot in your mouth, especially when it belongs to somebody else. A Democratic candidate speaks out on the famous flubbed-line flap.

HARRIS: That was pretty good. He's not even up for election this time, but will John Kerry's gaffe affect your votes? All things political today in the Newsroom.

From the November 1 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

BLITZER: Welcome back. The latest John Kerry vs. George Bush sparring over Iraq has a déjà-vu quality to it. But there is a big difference this time. Senator Kerry isn't running for anything, at least not officially. Let's bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield -- Jeff.

GREENFIELD: Well, you know, Wolf, ever since Senator Kerry's botched joke, I have been trying to think about one simple question: When have the ill-advised comments had a major political impact when the speaker wasn't a candidate? Well, I did find one, but you have to go back a ways -- a long, long ways.

[...]

ZAHN: But it is a two-day story, Mickey. And there are some folks out there that think it will increase voter turnout. Is John Kerry going to cost some Democrats some victories in tight races?

KAUS: It's not going to help, but there are some Democrats, like Harold Ford, who are having a great time distancing themselves from Kerry and using him as the -- sort of our Sister Souljah of -- of this year.

From the November 2 edition of CNN's American Morning:

O'BRIEN: A couple of weeks ago, we were talking about the scandal over Foley, now we've been talking about Senator Kerry and his remarks. How much of a role, how much of an impact do you think that's actually going to have on this election?

CROWLEY: It was interesting. I mean, here in this district, [Democratic congressional candidate Tammy] Duckworth was -- said she thought it was unfortunate, asked if Kerry should apologize -- this is before he did. She said, you know, I don't know. I just know that what we really should be talking about is what's going on in Iraq. Is there a plan? She definitely, obviously, felt negatively about what Senator Kerry had to say. Nonetheless, this looks like a hardened landscape across the country. People have made up their minds about Iraq. What this may do, and what Republicans certainly are trying to do, is whip up their base, remind them of John Kerry; certainly Republicans didn't like him in 2004. Republicans need, if they're going to win anywhere, is to get their base out. The base has been depressed about any number of things, about spending in Washington and about the Iraq war, about social issues. So the fear for Republicans is that that base won't come out because they're too discouraged. So something like Kerry's remarks certainly might help Republicans in stirring up their base. It probably doesn't hurt Democrats as much as it maybe helps Republicans bring out their solid voters.

Network/Outlet
CNN
Show/Publication
American Morning, The Situation Room, CNN Newsroom
Stories/Interests
2006 Elections
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